Efficiency is the most commonly used parameter to compare the performance of one solar cell to another. Efficiency is defined as the ratio of energy output from the solar cell to input energy from the sun. In addition to reflecting the performance of the solar cell itself, the efficiency of a solar cell depends on the intensity and frequency of sunlight, the size and type of cell used, as well as the temperature.
Therefore, in order to compare the performance of one type of solar cell with that of another it is necessary to ensure that both are measured under comparable conditions. AM1.5 [AM0] refers to the measurement conditions and is a standardized measurement of solar cell efficiency.
Solar Panel Efficiency
Solar panel efficiency is a measurement of a solar panel’s ability to convert sunlight into a usable electricity. Given the same amount of sunlight, shining for the same duration of time, on two solar panels with different efficiency ratings, the more efficient panel will produce more electricity than the less efficient panel. Solar Panel efficiency depends on the exact composition, electrical configuration, and conditions of surrounding components.
How Efficient Are They?
Solar panels function by turning solar radiation into electricity. In general, most solar panels are between 15% and 20% efficient, with outliers on either side of the range. Some high-quality solar panels can exceed 22% efficiency in some cases (and almost reach 23%!), but the majority of photovoltaic panels available are not above 20% efficiency.
Do Different Models Have Different Efficiency?
There are many factors that determine how effective solar panels can be. At the core, solar panels are tested for efficiency to determine how well they are able to capture photons of light, converting them into usable electricity. Research suggests that two solar panels of the same composition will produce the same amount of electricity in the same conditions. The difference lies in efficiency rating and other considerations. In order to improve the efficiency of a solar panel, one must look at the cell efficiency, wiring and heat dissipation.
When considering the benefits of capturing the sun’s energy, it is important to first look at exposure to direct sunlight. With two solar panels side by side, one with a 21% efficiency rating and one with a 14% efficiency rating, the 14% efficient panel will produce 25% less electricity.
Multijunction and bifacial solar panels are an innovative solution to the problem of low- efficiency cells. They enable solar panels to capture light on both sides of a cell while also capturing different wavelengths of light, ultimately creating a more efficient panel than conventional single-side and single- wavelength panels.
All in all, there are a plethora of factors that scientists and engineers can take into consideration for improving solar panel efficiency. The ultimate goal is to convert more incoming sunlight into electricity.
So, What Are The Most Efficient Solar Panels?
Ranked 1 through 5 in terms of offering the best solar panels, here are the top five manufacturers as showcased below:
- SunPower (22.8%)
- LG (22.0%)
- REC Solar (21.7%)
- CSUN (21.2%)
- Panasonic (21.2%)
The best solar panels on the market today have an efficiency rating as high as 22.8%. But most panels range from 16% to 18% efficiency rating. SunPower is considered the highest quality and most efficient brand available. SunPower’s panels are efficient, durable, and high performance. With a 25-year limited warranty, SunPower is the number one US solar panel brand, and we have the largest solar panel manufacturing capacity in the world.
Maximum Production or Maximum Offset: If your goal is to maximize the amount of electricity your solar panels produce, or you want to ensure you buy the least amount of electricity from the utility company, but you only have a limited amount of roof space available to install solar panels, you may choose to install higher efficiency solar panels. This will ensure you get the maximum production from your solar panel system.
Cost vs. Value: Manufacturers are increasingly producing solar panels with greater efficiency. However, the price of increased power output means that initially, more efficient solar panels can end up costing more than their less efficient equivalents.
Important Things To Know
Homeowners who get multiple quotes save 10% or more
For most homeowners, installing solar panels is a big decision. From budgeting to the permitting process and everything in between, it takes lots of research and consideration. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) advises that consumers compare as many solar options as possible to avoid paying inflated prices offered by the large installers in the solar industry.
The biggest installers typically don’t offer the best price
Homeowners may be tempted by shiny ads promising the most solar for your buck. But more isn’t always better when it comes to solar. There is a difference between cheap and expensive solar, and it’s worth shopping around to find the best system for your needs. Solar quotes from local installers are less than quotes from big companies, which could save you money.
The U.S. government recently released a report which revealed that large installers are $2,000 to $5,000 more expensive than small solar companies. If you have received quotes from one of the big installers in solar, make sure that you compare those quotes with bids from smaller local solar companies to eliminate any overpayments for solar.
Comparing all your equipment options is just as important
Solar installers that cater to the national market have a higher average price, but they can also offer a greater selection of equipment. It’s beneficial to get as many solar bids as possible so that you can be fully aware of the different equipment packages available to you. To ensure that you get the best value for your system, you can collect multiple solar bids from vetted installers in your area and compare costs and savings based on the different equipment packages available to you.
When comparing residential solar panels, it’s important to consider multiple variables to ensure you’re getting the best possible installation. While certain panels will have higher efficiency ratings than others, there isn’t a clear correlation between price and savings. The only way to find the “sweet spot” for your property is to get quotes from vetted contractors with varying equipment and financing offers.